Dell S30MX review: Dell S30MX

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.1
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0

Average User Rating

4 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Dell S2330MX has a thin, aesthetically pleasing design, well-placed connections, and good overall performance. The fact that this comes at such a low price is icing on the cake.

The Bad The monitor has flimsy build quality, a very unstable foot stand, and its OSD navigation isn't as smooth as what we've come to expect from Dell.

The Bottom Line The Dell S2330MX is a well-designed general purpose monitor with a pleasing aesthetic at a great price.

Editors' Top Picks

When purchasing a monitor, most buyers expect a few key things from their investment: good performance, enough connection options to meet their needs, and a reasonable price.

Sometimes there's a specific need for really high performance or advanced ergonomic options, but in general, a well-performing monitor is enough for most.

So, does the Dell S2330MX satisfy those basic monitor needs and if so, does it dare to go any further?

Design and features
The Dell S2330MX has one of the thinnest profiles of any monitor we've reviewed. The initial profile measures an extremely slight 0.3 inch; thinner than even the Samsung PX2370 , but not quite as thin as the LG E2290V , which still holds the thinness record, measuring 0.25 inch in profile. Dell does cheat this thinness somewhat though. At the bottom back of the panel, the monitor extends another 0.6 inch to house the connection options.

Speaking of which, the S2330MX includes VGA and DVI inputs. Thankfully Dell has taken a page from the best-designed thin monitors like the Samsung PX2370, and has the connections face back instead of down, making them at least seven times less frustrating to access according to an algorithm of my own creation.

The side bezels measure 0.8 inch wide, the full width of the panel is 21.7 inches, and the distance from the bottom of the monitor to the desktop is 2.8 inches. At the bottom of the glossy black panel is a gray lip that adds an aesthetic contrast to the black of the monitor's chassis. Like most thin, LED-based monitors, the S2330MX is devoid of ergonomic options and includes only a 10-degree back tilt. The monitor also comes in a 22-inch version, the S2230MX; we reviewed the 23-incher.

The foot stand is this halo-shaped circle, about 7.5 inches in diameter, and to say it has a problem with stability is severely underselling its inability to properly keep the monitor from wobbling when knocked from the sides.

I've always held up Dell's onscreen display (OSD) design as an example of how an easily navigable OSD should be designed. While the OSD shares the basic design of previous Dell OSDs, the fact that the OSD buttons are aligned horizontally under the OSD makes navigating a bit more cumbersome than in the past. The buttons don't quite line up with the OSD as well and as a result feel slightly disconnected.

The OSD itself is has seven preset options, including Standard, Multimedia, Movie, Games, Text, Warm, and Cool. Also included are brightness, contrast and sharpness options, as well as Red, Green, and Blue controls. Dell also throws in a few OSD-specific customizations. There's an energy meter that appears at the top of menus and indicates just how much power you're using at any given time.

Build quality feels somewhat flimsy, especially around the back of the panel. Also, pressing the OSD buttons sometimes elicits an undesired popping sound.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity VGA, DVI
Ergonomic options 10-degree back tilt
Resolution 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio 16:9
Audio n/a
VESA wall mount support No
Included video cables DVI, DVI-to-HDMI adapter
Backlight LED
Panel type TN
Screen film Matte w/AG coating
Number of presets 7
Overdrive No
Picture options Brightness, Contrast
Color controls RGB and 2 color temperature options
Gamma control No
Additional features Sharpness

Performance
We tested the 23-inch Dell S2330MX through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using our own DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 89 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

The screen has a pretty heavy amount of antiglare (AG) screen coating, but reflections are still possible with objects in close proximity to the screen, especially when viewing dark scenes. There's no amount of glossiness, however, thanks to the high level of coating.

DisplayMate: The Dell S2330MX visibly displayed dark gray down to a low level of 2 and light gray was visible to a high level of 253. Judging from these findings, the display would likely not have much trouble displaying dark detail or confuse white with light colors.

Color performance, though good overall, was plagued by the nearly impossible-to-escape green hue problem that crops up on many monitors during the color-tracking test. Dialing the green down to 92 helped a lot, but it was still noticeable.

Backlight bleeding was prevalent along the middle bottom edge of the screen as well as along the left edge.

Text: It's difficult screw up text on a modern monitor, so we not only look at the text itself, but also the effect of black text on a white background, which can sometimes cause a weird yellowish glow to emanate around the text. On the Dell S2330MX, black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.

Movies: We tested the Dell S2330MX using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Compared with the Samsung S23A550H , the S2330MX lacks vibrancy and its colors don't pop from the screen quite as well. Like the S23A550H, there's a noticeable green push problem, but this can be treated by lowering the green to 92 percent. That doesn't perfect the color by any means, but it does significantly improve things.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy See All

Dell S2230MX 21.5-inch Ultra-Slim monitor

Part Number: S2230MX
Low Price: $334.65 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Display Type LED-backlit LCD monitor / TFT active matrix
  • Interface VGA (HD-15)
    DVI
  • Diagonal Size 22 in
  • Pixel Pitch 0.248 mm
  • Image Contrast Ratio 1000:1
  • Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
About The Author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.